Just in time for Mardi Gras, A Tuba to Cuba joyously celebrates the spirit of New Orleans and its cultural cousins across the Gulf of Mexico.
The vibrant feature by veteran music-doc helmer Danny Clinch (Pearl Jam: Let’s Play Two) and editor-turned-director T.G. Herrington (The Mechanic) follows the revered Preservation Hall Jazz Band on its long-awaited trip to Havana, employing zippy editing to help capture the excitement felt by the two countries’ musicians as they collaborate.
Powerful as these lively encounters are, the filmmakers also know when to let their cameras roll and chronicle the deep human connections experienced by certain parties in quieter moments, especially those wrought with complex emotions tied to the African diaspora.
Were it not for the head-scratching repetition of returning to the band’s otherwise engaging creative director, Ben Jaffe — son of Preservation Hall’s founders — and his barely varying statement on how New Orleans and Cuban musicians have so much in common, the film might rank in the upper echelon of recent music documentaries.
Even with that message pounded home, Jaffe and his long, frizzy locks remain endearing, spirited guides and make A Tuba to Cuba something close to a must-see.
Starts March 1 at Grail Moviehouse